JANUARY 17, 1815
On this date 200 years ago today, John DePauw and John E. Clark of Shelby County, Kentucky entered into a partnership agreement to operate a store in Salem for a term of one year. As the land agent for Salem, DePauw had sold a lot on December 23, 1814 located on the northwest quadrant of the Public Square to Madison merchant Jonathan Lyon who intended on opening Salem’s first general store. DePauw must have thought that if an out of town merchant saw a future in Salem then he should benefit from his status as the central figure in the establishment of the new Washington County seat by opening a competing store. In the Old West there was a saying that if a town was too small to support one lawyer, it could easily support two. Maybe DePauw believed the same principle applied to general retail as well. As there were going to be many new buildings under construction and many new households being set up, there surely would be opportunity for two general stores.
The agreement between DePauw and Clark provided that DePauw would furnish goods at a value of $1,745.40 and Clark would furnish goods at a value of $1,943.47. At the end of the year if there is a sufficient stock of goods on hand, the parties were to take out the retail value of what they each put in. If there was not the value of goods on hand equal to the amount originally put in, then money was to be drawn from the partners in “lieu of deficiency”. One or two clerks were to be hired to be paid out of a joint fund. All expenses necessarily attending the store were to be paid out of joint stock except for services of DePauw and the rent of a store house. At the end of year a dividend was to be paid from profits, with John DePauw receiving 2/3 of any profit with Clark receiving 1/3. Goods were also purchased on credit from Jonathan P. Brady of Shelby County, Kentucky for the sum of $1,595. DePauw and Clark each gave their personal notes to Brady to be paid from the joint stock.
John Ellis Clark was a 28 year old native of Henrico County, Virginia born of Welsh descent. He was married to Catherine Hardman in Shelby County, Kentucky in 1810. Catherine was a native of Shelby County, Kentucky being a daughter of Abraham and Margaret Leatherman Hardman. The Hardman [Hartmann] family came to the American colonies as part of the wave of migration from the Palatine area of the lower Rhine River in modern day Germany. John Ellis Clark would eventually benefit greatly from marrying into the Hardman family. Abraham Hardman who was probably a Dunkard invested widely in Washington and Jackson County, Indiana land. When he died in March of 1823 in Shelby County, Kentucky, his will was probated. In addition to providing for his widow, Margaret, and his children, the will also made significant devises of land to his son in law, John. A summary of the Abraham Hardman will which was recorded in Washington County, Indiana in Deed Book H, pages 324-325 reads as follows:
“Wife Margaret Hardman - to have "land on which I now live (318 acres); also quarter section near White River, Ind., and 3 town lots in Salem, Ind. and slave Simon, all personal property & money."
Daughters: Hannah Hostetler, Betsy Hostetler and Catherine Clark - to have 3/4 of my 4 gr. sections of land in Indiana. In trust for "my daughter Polly Mitchell, after the death of her mother."
John E. Clark to have 3 remaining gr. sections in Indiana - also tract on which she now lives in Shelby Co., on Gusse's Creek.
Son: Daniel Hardman "land which I bought of Knight in Ind."
Witnesses: Thomas Jenkins, Jacob Rush”
John Ellis Clark was a brick mason by trade and had little if any experience as a merchant when John DePauw made his partnership agreement with him regarding the Salem store. Clark’s reputation as a mason must have been substantial as this is the reason that DePauw set him up in Salem in 1815. As of late August 1814, John DePauw was under contract with the Washington Circuit Court to build a court house for the sum of $2,490. As both the governmental agent to sell the platted lots in the fledgling town of Salem and the contractor to build the seat of justice for the newly established county, the establishment of a viable town was now almost entirely in the hands of John DePauw. With a shortage of younger men with proven construction skills available on the Indiana frontier, DePauw desperately needed someone with Clark’s masonry skills to fulfill his contract. The next post will describe how DePauw and Clark were able to work together so that the contract for the construction of the first Washington County Court House could be completed.
PIONEER GENERAL STORE
PIONEER BRICK YARD
GOOGLE EARTH VIEW OF GUIST CREEK
SHELBY COUNTY, KENTUCKY
HOME OF JOHN ELLIS CLARK